The Way of the Heart: Deep Rest & silent meditation retreat with Gemma Polo Pujol

This retreat is a beautiful opportunity to be guided through the practice of deep rest meditation into a place of profound aliveness.

Buddhist meditation retreat at The Barn at Sharpham, Devon, UK

For many of us life can feel like an ongoing race from one action to another, aiming to complete an ever-growing to-do list.

Buddhist meditation retreat at The Barn at Sharpham, Devon, UKIn our heart, we know that unless our actions come from a place of connection and fluidity, life is going to be tiring and draining for our body and soul.

We long to meet a place of nourishment and aliveness from where our actions can flow and ultimately happen from a non-forceful place within us.

When we give ourselves time to truly rest without limits and renew ourselves fully, we can meet the vibrant source of wisdom and creativity that resides within.

This way of resting not only repairs tiredness, but also becomes a doorway to the soul, and brings us closer to ourselves, heals us and transforms us.

Read on for more details on this retreat and click the Leaders, Schedules and Venue & Directions tabs above for further information.

Retreats at The Barn at The Sharpham Trust

The invitation

This retreat is a beautiful opportunity to take some time out of the pressure or fast pace of our daily lives and discover the power of going inwards, like a seed gestating in the dark warmth of the earth, awaiting a new burst of growth.

Within the context of this retreat, we understand that meditation is not something we do or achieve, but an inner state that we slip into when we become relaxed, open, and receptive to much more subtle forces, beyond our own efforts.

Each individual is held in a genuine way, through personalized guidance, and also experiences the silent support that comes from resting and meditating in a group context. The loving and trusting atmosphere that will be created on this retreat enables the inner journey to take place in a gentle and joyful way.


This retreat is for you if you:

  • want to go deeper into dharma, with an experienced teacher close at hand
  • are prepared to live and work in community, preparing meals together and working in the gardens
  • are aged 18 and above

Buddhist meditation retreat at The Barn at Sharpham, Devon, UK

Gemma says:

After facilitating deep rest retreats for more than 17 years and observing the fruits that they bring into our lives, I can say with certainty that among many other things, Deep Rest meditation offers us:

  • A doorway to creativity and joy.
  • The opportunity to drop our beliefs around effort and discipline, and allow life to flow more.
  • A sense of being deeply rested and slowly dissolving the layers of tiredness that we carry.
  • The possibility of becoming much more productive or effective in our actions as they emerge from an inner alive place.
  • A safe and wide space within form which to embrace all our feelings and emotions.
  • A loving acceptance of ourselves as we are.
  • A rediscovering our deepest longings and the urge to honour them.
  • The ability to acknowledge the small and simple practices that keep alive our connection to the sacred.
  • The experience of connecting to softness, gentleness and kindness.
  • A flavour of living from a place of trust, abundance and generosity.

Retreats with residential teachers

Our retreats with residential teachers are similar to standard retreats with extra teaching.

There will be a maximum of 10 participants on this retreat.

There are periods of silence on each of our retreats.

Our programme of standard 6-night retreats at The Barn can be viewed and booked here

Daily meditations

There are approximately three 40-minute meditation sittings each day, and it's important that you commit to them to deepen your practice and connect to the community here.

Working on the land

It is important that you are willing to participate in working on the land as part of your mindfulness practice (we can easily find suitable tasks for people with health difficulties) and that you can commit to all the scheduled activities during the week.

Buddhist meditation retreat at The Barn at Sharpham, Devon, UK

What you’ll experience on this retreat

During this retreat you’ll:

  • experience guided meditations and periods of silence and quiet contemplation
  • be living in community with like-minded people, sharing experiences and tasks, including the making of meals and taking care of the house
  • have a single-occupancy room and your own space in which to rejuvenate, with free time to deeply rest and reconnect with yourself
  • have access to 24-hour hot teas, coffee & infusions in the kitchen
  • be able to explore the beautiful Sharpham Estate, set within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to nature, amid breath-taking scenery on the banks of the River Dart

View from The Barn - by participant Gary Fielder

Mindfulness in nature at Sharpham

When you experience Sharpham's inspiring and nourishing environment, we hope you'll connect spiritually with the natural world, so you’ll:

  • become aware of how we are all part of nature - not artificially separate from it
  • pay attention to and appreciate the natural world surrounding us
  • explore nature through your senses and your natural creativity
  • Tread more lightly on our finite planet, developing a respect and reverence for all living things

Click here to read our ethos and principles

A detail of The Barn's garden - pic by participant Gary Fielder

What might you bring?

If you decide to stay with us, we’ll send you a list of what you need to bring for this retreat in your Welcome Letter. But you might consider the following:

  • Comfortable, loose clothing for meditation and movement sessions
  • Indoor footwear/slippers
  • Suitable seasonal clothes – it can get cold in the evening and in the winter
  • Boots or comfy waterproof outdoor shoes and a waterproof jacket are advisable for local walks
  • A journal or notepad if you want to write or draw during your time here

Find out more about staying at The Barn on our Frequently Asked Questions page

Buddhist meditation retreat at The Barn at Sharpham, Devon, UK

Food & your dietary needs

We have a fully stocked organic and vegetarian kitchen. The main meal is at lunch time. Everyone takes a turn to prepare this meal in pairs (this will be organised at the Sunday welcome meeting). We have plenty of simple recipes for you to choose from, or we can direct you to one in particular. Some participants like to use their own recipe ideas.

We can accommodate gluten-free and/or vegan dietary needs. However, our kitchen is not gluten, dairy nor nut-free. We do not provide gluten-free bread, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Please make sure you include dietary restrictions and any food allergies on your Booking Form. We may need to communicate further with you about specifics. The booking form is sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.

Our water is provided from our own spring, UV treated and filtered.

Your physical and mental health

This retreat is suitable for you if you have some meditation experience, or you are seeking to renew or reconnect with your practice.

Although meditation and mindfulness can be helpful in managing stress, depression and anxiety our retreats might not be suitable if you are experiencing major depression or other clinically diagnosed psychiatric illness such as bipolar disorder, psychosis or current self-harming. Click here for more information and for our booking process

If you have a medical condition that requires you to have a room close to a toilet, please contact The Barn team on the number below and we'll try to help.


The retreat was very touching and watered a long forgotten seed in me


View from The Barn


NB: This retreat is in silence

Retreats with residential teachers have a tighter schedule and have less free time than our standard 6-night retreats.


2.00pm to 4.00pm – Your arrival
4.30pm – Welcome talk, introductions and tour
5.30pm –  Guided meditation
6.30pm – Light evening meal. Then settling in


Monday to Friday:

Mornings Afternoons
6.20am – Wake up 12.15pm – Meditation
6.50am – Meditation 1.00pm – Lunch
  2.00pm – Personal practice time
7.30am –  Household tasks 4.30pm – Meditation
8.00am – Breakfast 5.00pm – Teaching 
9.00am – Mindful gardening 6.00pm – Supper
10.45am – Meditation with guidance 7.30pm - Singing & meditation
11.30am - Connected walking  



As above until 8.00am. Then it's time to clear your room and depart between 9.00am and 11.00am.

I am deeply, deeply grateful for the retreat. I am still so much impressed by the softness of the week, and the depth of the changes. Thank you, thank you, thank you for you kind and loving presence, creating this safe heaven to open up my soul and let the sacred light in.


The retreat was very touching and watered a long forgotten seed in me.


I felt my hand softly held while I find my way back home...


Your presence in the retreat holds with security, wisdom, and compassion.


I’m grateful for your beautiful and inspiring talks, and your absolute commitment to the path.

This retreat takes place at The Barn, with superb views over the River Dart.

Please note that The Barn Retreat is in a different location to Sharpham House. Make sure to follow the directions to The Barn Retreat, rather than Sharpham House.

Click here for our How to Find Us page on this website.

Click here to view and download directions and a map to The Barn

Click here view and download walking/cycling directions to The Barn

view of The Barn at The Sharpham Trust

If you have a medical condition that requires you to have a room close to a toilet, please contact The Barn team on the number below and we'll try to help.

Phones and laptops
We ask all participants to turn off mobile phones and electronic devices for the whole of your retreat. This helps you and everyone else to disengage from daily life and live fully in the simplicity and quietude of a Buddhist retreat.

We are 3 miles from Totnes – famous for its Transition Town movement

We are in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


We take sustainability seriously.Meditation retreats at The Barn at The Sharpham Trust, Devon, England

Heating and hot water in The Barn is run from our log furnace and solar thermal panels. We supply as much food as possible from our organic gardens; the rest comes from Riverford Organic Farms and Essential Trading Cooperative. We also have two large photovoltaic solar panel arrays on the Estate and use biodegradable cleaning products wherever possible.

Standard rate: £400 plus dana

We are committed to ensuring that retreats at The Barn are accessible to all - regardless of income. Paying the Standard rate allows us to support those who are only able to afford the Subsidised Rate and contributes towards our operating and running costs.

The Standard rate includes all meals, bedding and towels.

Supported rate: £345 plus dana

This is for those unable to pay the Standard rate. The Supported rate includes all meals, bedding and towels.

Dana is the Pali word for generosity or donation. The teachers are receiving only a small payment for teaching at The Barn and are generously giving their energy and understanding to us all. Please consider giving a donation to teachers for the retreats that they lead.

Room types

Rooms at The Barn at The Sharpham Trust

All rooms are comfortable single rooms, with a shared bathroom.

Hot drinks are available 24 hours for you to get for yourself in the kitchen.


Limited bursaries are available for those experiencing financial hardship. Contact the Barn team on the number or email below at least 4 weeks in advance if you wish to apply.

Our bursary fund relies on donations. If you’d like to help another to go on retreat here through our bursary scheme, you can give online quickly and easily by clicking here

Gemma Polo

Gemma Polo

She offers one-to-one spiritual guidance and has been facilitating Deep Rest meditation retreats in all continents with Open Dharma since 2002.

Gemma is a theologian, beekeeper, poet, and mother. Her passion for the question of life led her to start practising Zen at age 16.

She became a contemplative and activist catholic nun, and lived in India for a decade immersed in the Hindu tradition while deepening her practice.

Her strong connection to nature brought her back to Spain to create an eco-retreat centre, diving into the ancient, nature-based wisdom traditions.

Retreats & Events

All rooms are single occupancy.

How to book easily and securely:

  • online on this page
  • by phoning 01803 732542

If you've got any questions about this retreat, call The Barn team on 01803 732661 or email [email protected]

We’re not always in the office, so be prepared to leave a message saying when we could call you back.

Do check our Calendar to see and book for our events - or join our mailing list by clicking here to be kept in touch about Sharpham Trust news, retreats & events.